In a recent judgment pronounced by Delhi High Court with regards
to the case of Institute for Inner studies Vs Charlotte Anderson,
it was clarified that exclusive rights over yoga asanas and pranic
healing, which are derivatives of ancient yoga technique in India
cannot be claimed under Indian Trade Mark Law and Indian Copyright
Law. A Philippines-based Institute for Inner Studies (IIS) sought
to restrain some persons from teaching the 'asanas'
(postures) claimed to be developed by Master Choa Kok Sui, who is
the founder of the institute. IIS also stated that their yoga
techniques and 'Pranic healing' were claimed under
copyright and trademark laws of the country.
With regards to the trademark infringement, the Court clarified
that that the expression 'Pranic Healing' existed already
in a book written by Swami Ramachakra in 1906, therefore it falls
in a public domain. Also it was observed that the word 'Pranic
healing' is a generic term and hence not coined by Master Choa
Kok Sui of IIS. Obviously, there is a lack of distinctiveness as
required by Section 9 of the TradeMarks Act. The Court noted that
IIS made 'false claim' as to the proprietorship of the
trademark as the expression was neither distinctive nor capable of
distinguishing the goods and services of one person from that of
With regards to copyright, IIS claimed copyright over 9 titles
of book written by the Master, CD Roms and trade literature where
the techniques were complied. IIS further claimed that the
performance of 'Pranic Healing' technique was a work of
choreography and hence copyrightable under Section 13(a) of
Copyright Act, 1957 as a "dramatic work". The Court after
detailed analysis, discussed the idea and expression of ideas
dichotomy and reinstated that a copyright can be obtained over the
manner in which the Master of IIS has demonstrated as to how
pranayam can be performed and in a specific way that they had
illustrated it. However, IIS cannot claim copyright ownership over
pranic healing or any other yoga techniques per se, which is a part
of traditional knowledge since the time of Maharishi Patanjali. The
Court mentioned Section 2(h) of the Copyright Act which defines a
"dramatic work" and cited Bikram's Yoga (2012) case
as an example in concluding that mere selection and arrangement of
physical movements and naming it as 'Pranic Healing' will
not make it a work of choreography and hence ruled out copyright
protection as dramatic work.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
This article enunciates the recent, much awaited, and landmark judgment delivered on September 16, 2016 by Hon'ble Delhi High Court throwing light on the important provisions of the Copyright Act, 1962.
The Patents Act 1970, along with the Patents Rules 1972, came into force on 20th April 1972, replacing the Indian Patents and Designs Act 1911. The Patents Act was largely based on the recommendations of the Ayyangar Committee Report headed by Justice N. Rajagopala Ayyangar. One of the recommendations was the allowance of only process patents with regard to inventions relating to drugs, medicines, food and chemicals.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).